Quality, not quantity, is the watchword for New Mexico at the upcoming USA Boxing National Championships in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Steve Garcia, chairman of the national amateur governing board’s New Mexico organization, said in a telephone interview that perhaps nine boxers from the state are entered.
Nationals originally were scheduled for December but were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had a lot more (in December), but then they cancelled it,” Garcia said. “The gyms got closed down.”
Nonetheless, New Mexico’s prospects for podium finishes are good. Two young fighters from Las Cruces, Ariana Carrasco and Joscelyn Olayo-Munoz, bring impressive credentials to Shreveport.
Carrasco, entered in the Youth Female class at 141 pounds, is a two-time national Junior Olympics champion and a 2019 USA Boxing Western Regional gold medalist.
“I think Ariana has a very good chance,” Garcia said. “She’s been staying active. She just fought a couple of weeks ago.”
Carrasco was in Albuquerque last week, sparring with Garcia’s daughter Jordanne, who’s a professional boxer.
Olayo-Munoz, nicknamed “Jos the Boss,” is entered in the Intermediate Female division at 95 pounds. She won at USA Boxing nationals in 2017 and 2018 and has a trophy case full of titles from Western Regionals and Junior Olympics competitions.
The Albuquerque brother-sister team of Yoruba and Sharahya-Taina Moreu also is entered.
Sharahya-Taina was an Elite women’s runner-up at 2018 nationals and has represented the U.S. at international competitions in India and Bulgaria. She’s the United States’ Olympic alternate at 152 pounds.
She’s entered at that weight at Shereveport in the Elite 152-pound class, where her stiffest competition might come from a former training partner: Albuquerque’s Jocelyn Shalaya Shade.
The Moreus will be joined by teammate and fellow Albuquerquean Filomeno Pulido, who, like them, is trained by Yoruba Moreu Sr. Pulido is entered in the Youth Division 108-pound class, Moreu Jr. in the Junior Male competition at 119 pounds.
Bouts in Shreveport are scheduled to begin Friday and continue through April 3.
OPPORTUNITY FOR SANCHEZ: Albuquerque welterweight boxer Jose Luis Sanchez (11-1, four knockouts) is scheduled to face California veteran Adrian Granados (21-8-2, 15 KOs) on a Premier Boxing Champions card scheduled for April 24 – though it has been reported online that the card may be pushed back to May 1 – at a site to be determined.
For Sanchez, it’s not quite the opportunity his younger brother Jason was presented when he faced Top Rank, Inc., contract fighter Jean Carlos Rivera in 2018. Jason Sanchez, a featherweight, defeated Rivera, became a Top Rank fighter and fought for a world title in 2019.
Granados, Jose Luis Sanchez’s scheduled opponent, isn’t of the same stature as Rivera. Still, for Sanchez, it’s an opportunity to be seen by and to impress boxing people previously unaware of him.
Of his previous 12 bouts, only one – in El Paso – has taken place outside of New Mexico’s borders.
The April 24/May 1 main event is to match former world heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. against longtime contender Chris Arreola. The card is to be aired on Fox pay-per-view.
GARCIA RETIRES: Leonard Garcia, a popular, crowd-pleasing MMA fighter and bare-knuckles boxer with strong New Mexico connections, has announced his retirement.
Garcia, 41, made the announcement after his unanimous-decision victory over Joe Elmore on a Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship card in Biloxi, Mississippi, on Friday.
“I still got a lot left in the tank,” Garcia said after the fight. “… (But) my deal with God was to be the No. 1 guy when I left.”
Garcia, a Texas native, trained for years at Albuquerque’s Jackson-Wink MMA and later with his close friend Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at Cerrone’s BMF Ranch in the East Mountains.
A veteran of WEC and UFC competition, Garcia has an 18-13-1 MMA record. Among his most memorable victories was a first-round KO of Hiroyuki Takaya in February 2008 on a WEC card at the then-Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.